“Somebody left the main gate open! Bobby has escaped!” shouted Morag, her usually alto voice was raised an octave higher.
There was a momentary pause in which everyone, myself included, froze. We were all suspended in a shocked silence. Then suddenly, the space filled with a tidal wave of noise as everyone went into panic mode.
“Oh my God! Which idiot left the bloody gate open?” shouted Jack.
“I don’t think shouting is the appropriate response Jack!” replied the flustered Morag, at full volume.
“Well you’re shouting!” retorted Jack.
“Oh my God!” wailed Brenda, shaking her hands. “What shall we do? What shall we do?”
“He’s called Bobby?” I mused, “I didn’t even know they actually had names!” (I had only ever heard them being called words I probably shouldn’t write here.)
“The other one’s called Simon!” Alex called out from inside Jenny’s stable.
“Can we stop the discussion on their names! For God’s sake everyone we need to find Bobby before he kills someone!”
That statement made everyone shut up as we realised that it wasn’t just an ordinary escapee pony, it was the worst of the two naughty and bored, Fells.
“What’s going on?” asked Gorgeous Danny who had just sauntered in, looking delicious as ever in casual jeans and a tight t-shirt which showed off his wonderfully muscular chest to great advantage.
“Bobby has escaped! Someone left the main gate open!” yelled Brenda, her face bright red and her eyes almost popping out.
“No prizes for guessing who that was!” smirked Jack glancing over to Veronica who was still lying down sobbing very dramatically.
“Oh for goodness sake, Veronica was it you?” demanded Morag.
“Yes! It was I! Oh dear, I am so foolish!” came the muffled response of Veronica in between sobs.
“Right, everyone, get your horses and follow me!” the usually quiet Danny took charge of the situation. He fancied himself as a bit of a cowboy after having been on a ranch holiday in America.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to catch him on foot?” I asked.
“No he could be anywhere we’ll never catch up!” said Danny as he dashed off to get his horse tacked up.
“But he might just be on the grass verge by the road!” I called after him.
“I’ll drive out and see if I can find him, come on Brenda bring his headcollar. Grace you can ride Buddy, his tacks in there,” Jack gestured to her stable and ran off to her van (Jack was a joiner which is why she drove a van).
Poppy seemed quite happy to stay in her stable with a load of hay so I left her to it and hurriedly tacked up Buddy. I had ridden him many times so I felt very confident as we zoomed out of the yard like The Charge of The Light Brigade. Buddy may have been very laid back but when asked to run he generally went hell for leather as the saying goes.
“Which way shall we go?” I shouted as we approached the end of the long driveway.
“Dunno!” shouted Danny, “I’d not thought of that!” and he suddenly pulled up.
Buddy almost crashed into his horse but managed to stop just in time and Bobby was no-where to be seen.
“Oh God! Which way?” wondered Danny. “Which way did Jack go?”
“Don’t know!” I replied.
Morag, Alex, Sally and Phoebe were close behind and we all began arguing as to where we thought Bobby may have gone.
“Whoa everyone!” shouted Alex and amazingly everyone shut up. “Did anyone check the garden?”
“What garden?” I asked.
“The yard owner’s garden!” she replied.
“No why?” asked Morag looking perplexed.
“I know I’m not one for logic but logically speaking, why would a horse run away from its’ territory? Surely he’s more likely to have hopped over the fence and is probably just destroying the veg patch.” Alex suggested.
“Oh for goodness sake!” Morag almost exploded with exasperation. “Come on everyone let’s go and look!”
We all turned around and galloped up the track back towards the yard. It was excellent fun and Buddy was perfect for that sort of caper. It was so nice to just ride without having a mind full of fears.
We skidded to a halt near the farm house which was old and beautiful, if slightly mouldering, and as if on cue, Bob opened his door and stepped outside.
“Oh, hello everyone!” he said looking very surprised to see us all so close to his house. “Is something wrong?”
“Is Bobby in your garden?” yelled Morag at full volume.
“Er no… not that I know of! Why?” Bob looked, unsurprisingly, very taken aback.
“Because loony tunes left the gate open and he’s gone!” laughed Danny.
“Danny it’s no laughing matter!” scolded Morag.
“It’s the best excitement we’ve had in a long time though!” Danny replied, still chuckling.
“Oh dear,” said Bob. “Oh dear, oh dear! Now that is a problem. Shall I have a look in the garden?” asked Bob in his painfully slow way.
“Yes!” we all replied in chorus.
Danny laughed his head off while Bob walked back into his house, carefully closing the door and locking it. He returned a few excruciatingly long minutes later. We could hear him fumbling with the lock and then stopping to answer his telephone.
“No I’m very sorry you’ve got the wrong number!” we heard him say. “No there’s nobody here by that name.”
“Oh my God!” laughed Sally, “Just hang up man!”
“Yes it’s definitely the wrong number, I’m terribly sorry.” continued Bob. “Ha ha! Yes. Thank you, goodbye!”
“Oh for pity’s sake!” said Morag getting crosser and crosser.
Then the door slowly opened and Bob stepped outside shaking his head. “No, he’s not there!”
Danny stood up in his stirrups and surveyed the surrounding fields double checking the errant pony wasn’t just having fun nearby. But no luck. He was nowhere to be seen.
“Jack’s calling!” shouted Alex, excitedly, answering her phone.
We all waited with baited breath.
“Oh God he’s by the lake!” said Alex as she hung up.
“How on earth did he get there? And why would he go there?” asked Sally, dumbfounded.
“Come on!” said Danny and off we went back down the track again at top speed, it was so fun!
The lake was at a park not far from the yard but we had to ride down a dual carriageway to get there which was a bit hectic to say the least. I was very glad that I was on safe, sensible Buddy who didn’t care where he went so long as he was going somewhere.
“He’s near the café!” shouted Alex as we neared the park entrance.
“He would be!” exclaimed Morag, “No doubt terrorising all the mums and kids! Oh my goodness I don’t know who I’m more annoyed with, Veronica for being such an idiot as to leave the gate open or Brenda for buying ponies with no knowledge!” Morag was fuming.
Danny was laughing his head off.
“Oh come on this is hilarious!” he laughed. But it only made Morag more annoyed.
“There’s Jack!” I called out as I spotted her stalking the sandy banks by the edge of the lake, headcollar and lead-rope in her hand.
“Jack!” shouted Alex.
Jack looked round and rolled her eyes as Brenda came running out of the café with a handful of carrots.
“I got these!” she gasped. “Hopefully they’ll entice him!”
“Good idea!” said Alex.
“Now what the hell do we do?” I asked, watching Bobby trotting up and down by the water’s edge, snorting at the swans which were hissing at him.
“We need to corner him somehow,” said Jack. “Two of you need to ride down there and drive him up this way but be careful. He’s such a turd, he’ll know what we’re doing!”
Danny and I rode as casually as possible on the grass, which was above the sandy lake-side, as if we weren’t bothered at all about Bobby. He watched us like a hawk and neighed loudly but still trotted back and forth by the swans, tossing his head.
“Wouldn’t you think that he would come to us because he knows us?” I wondered out loud.
“Yeah! He’s so weird!” laughed Danny, “God this is so fun! I’ve been so bored lately but this is brilliant!”
I noticed we had a rather large audience gathering to watch the action. Loads of small kids were saying funny things like “Ooh look mummy it’s a horse and that’s another horse and another horse and lots of horses!”
“I think you should all keep well back in case the naughty black pony runs into you!” I called out.
“Well done!” laughed Danny, “You can be the health and safety officer today, Morag would approve!”
“Well knowing how daft Brenda is, she probably doesn’t have any insurance!” I replied.
“Ha yeah she probably doesn’t!”
“Now what?” I asked as we came to a stop a safe distance behind Bobby.
“Dunno! We’ll wait till one of them yells at us I suppose!” grinned Danny. He was so good-looking it was terribly distracting. I had to work hard to stop myself from saying so as I have a terrible habit of saying what I think sometimes.
“Grace! Danny!” yelled Morag, waving her arms.
“Thaaar she blows!” laughed Danny.
“Ride slowly towards us!” called Morag.
“But he’ll just nip sideways into those kids!” I shouted back.
Jack said something to Phoebe and she manoeuvred her pony so that she could block him. Phoebe did trec and she was a very good rider, despite having flown head first into a tree last time I’d ridden with her!
“Ok, Danny and Grace drive him this way!” shouted Morag.
By this time most of the staff from the café were standing outside watching along with most of the park and it felt so stressful I started laughing too.
Bobby stood still, watching us. Luckily, he didn’t seem too concerned.
Danny’s horse, Boudicca was prancing sideways as usual and Buddy was a bit joggy too but it didn’t worry me because I’d known him for years.
“I don’t know how you ride that horse and be so laidback about it!” I exclaimed to Danny.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well she’s jogging sideways!” I replied.
“So’s Buddy!” he laughed
“Yes but Buddy is a cob he won’t actually do anything.”
“Neither will Boudicca and nor will Poppy because that’s what you’re really worried about isn’t it?” Danny replied with superb insight.
“Yes!” I exclaimed “You’re right!”
“Ha!” laughed Danny, “Stop worrying about what you think she might do and remember what she’s been like up to now. She’s been fine, don’t overthink things.”
“I always overthink things!” I laughed.
“Well don’t! Uncle Danny is always right!” he smiled but then suddenly his smile changed into a frown and I looked over to where he was looking. “Cyclists for God sake that’s all we need.”
A herd of cyclists were fast approaching on the lakeside edge just around the bend, heading towards Morag, Sally and Alex who were on the opposite side of Bobby ready to herd him over to Jack, Brenda and the carrots.
“Bikes coming Morag!” yelled Danny but it was too late. The cyclists, unaware of our delicate predicament, speeded up ringing their bells and shouting “Get those horses out of the way!”
“Oh my God!” I squeaked, “I can’t look!”
Morag’s horse, Candy, didn’t like cyclists at the best of times so she took great exception at being shouted at by a whole gang of them. She spun and reared and Morag fell backwards into the lake with a very loud splash, while the cyclists screeched to a stop piling into each-other and falling all over themselves onto the ground in a big heap. It was terrible!
“Christ!” yelled Danny dashing to the rescue with me and Buddy in hot pursuit.
Some people from the audience started shouting at the cyclists for being so rude and the cyclists were shouting at us saying “horses shouldn’t be in the park!” etc and then Alex who was always so lovely and calm sorted everyone out by simply explaining the predicament.
Jack was dragging Morag out of the lake which was lucky for the cyclists because she probably would have punched the lot of them!
The cyclists apologised and offered to help and the café staff brought a few towels and a cup of tea for poor Morag. Meanwhile, Candy took full advantage of the situation and scrambled up the sandy bank to graze on the grass above.
Candy grazing, seemed to be quite magnetizing for Bobby as he sidled up to her and began munching away on the grass too. Something about what I had learned in Wales started niggling in my mind.
“Danny!” I hissed as I slid off Buddy, “get off your horse and let her graze!”
“Ok!” Danny got down and we let Buddy and Boudicca graze the very thick and tempting grass.
“Hold Buddy’s reins!” I whispered and I walked calmly over to Jack and took the headcollar.
Everyone was fussing over Morag so it was very easy to take a deep breath, check my energy and lower it and stand near the grazing horses with my head down and a knee bent as if I was eating too. Very very quietly, I started stroking Candy, totally ignoring Bobby. Bobby came up close of his own accord and didn’t react while I gave him a stroke on his shoulder.
I took another deep breath and slipped his headcollar on. The fact he wasn’t totally feral and knew our horses obviously helped.
“Phew!” I said, silently thanking Julie’s excellent teaching.
“Wow good thinking!” said Danny, giving me a thumbs-up.
Brenda dashed over and took Bobby very gratefully.
“God what’s that awful stench?” I suddenly got a whiff of the most pungent foul smell.
“It’s Morag!” laughed Jack “Oh my God Morag you stink!”
“Yes thank you I am aware of that.” grimaced poor Morag who had unfortunately landed in the swampiest part of the lake. Her clothes were smeared with revolting green slime and she stank of rotten fish.
The walk home was very funny and very smelly thanks to Morag, and Bobby walked along very meekly as if he was the best little pony in the world.
“It’s a good job none of us had anything else to do today!” chuckled Sally. “This is the best ride we’ve been on for ages!”
“Speak for yourself!” said Morag witheringly, “I need to hose myself down before I go home I can’t get in my car like this!”
Phoebe obligingly hosed Morag down once we were back at the yard and she sat in the sun wrapped in a towel to dry off. Luckily it was a warm day.
Brenda thanked everyone for helping and received a stern lecture from Morag about the fact that she needed to do something with her ponies or sell them and Brenda promised she would.
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” said Jack as we led the horses back to the field. “Nobody in their right mind will buy those ponies.”
“True, but it was a really funny day!” I said. “Buddy is ace you’re so lucky to have such a laid-back horse.”
“Poppy is getting better, though isn’t she? I don’t think you need to worry so much anymore.” Jack replied.
It reminded me of what Danny had said and I realised that they were both right and maybe I didn’t need to think so negatively about her.